Mumbai: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, facing the charge of sedition among others, on Wednesday walked out of jail a day after the Bombay High Court ordered his release on bail and vowed to intensify his campaign for scrapping of the sedition law.

The Kanpur-based cartoonist, arrested for posting alleged seditious content on his website and insulting the national emblem and Parliament, was on Monday remanded in judicial custody till September 24, after police said it no longer required his custody and Trivedi refused to seek bail till the charge of sedition was dropped.

However, the High Court had on Tuesday ordered him to be enlarged on bail, saying, "He can be released on a personal bond. If drawing those cartoons is the only charge, then his custody is not required."

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The HC passed the order on a PIL filed by city-based lawyer Sanskar Marathe describing Trivedi's arrest as "illegal, bad in law, and unjustified".

Later, speaking to reporters at Mumbai Press Club along with rights activist Binayak Sen, Trivedi questioned the relevance of the sedition law in present-day democracy and demanded its immediate repeal.

"During the British rule, the rulers applied IPC 124 (A) to gag the voice of freedom fighters. It was applied against Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak and Veer Savarkar. It has been applied against writers, journalists, artists in the past few years and has been misused most of the time," he said.

My cartoons are like a mirror: Trivedi

Vowing to continue his fight for freedom of expression, Trivedi said, "My cartoons are like a mirror. They reflect the truth as it is. I never felt that I have committed a smallest mistake through my cartoons."

Describing section 124 (A) as one that reminds of "slavery", he said, "I respect law but not the one which is reminiscent of the foreign yoke."

However, Sen, who had also been charged with sedition for his alleged links with naxalites, when asked if he subscribed to the manner in which Trivedi conveyed his message through the cartoons, said he was sharing the platform with him only to voice his opposition to the law governing sedition.

Intellectuals opposing sedition law

"Politicians, writers and artistes are talking against this law and a debate has started. We all should vow to continue the fight. In today's world where social media is active, everybody is a writer. We should ensure no citizen has to face the accusation of being a traitor in future," Trivedi said.

Asked about his cartoon in which 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was shown urinating on the Indian Constitution, Trivedi said he did not regret it.

The controversial cartoonist said he would defend himself in the court against all other charges but not the one accusing him of sedition.

"I love my country and I do not accept the sedition charge. I respect the law but not the law relating to sedition which itself is illegal. It is against truth and justice."

"I was criticized for insulting the Constitution, Parliament and the country. They (Parliamentarians) ask questions after taking money, they are involved in scams worth crores, they are breaking the law. Tell me have I insulted the Parliament or have they insulted it ?" he asked.

Echoing the young cartoonist's views on sedition, Sen said, "Sedition law is a law which is misused to suppress dissent".

Signature campaign against sedition law

"We are planning a signature campaign against the law. We will be taking one million signatures and sending them to Parliament. Application of this law against anybody is never justified," he said.

Trivedi was arrested on September 8 on the basis of a complaint filed in December by a member of Republican Party of India Amit Katarnayea, who had alleged that the latter had put up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare's rally held last year at the Bandra Kurla Complex. It was also alleged that he had put obscene content on his website.

The police had also said that Trivedi had shown disrespect to the national flag and he was arrested under 124A of the Indian Penal Code for sedition besides various sections of the Information Technology Act.

PCI chairman Katju defends Trivedi

Trivedi's arrest had triggered an outrage with Justice Markandey Katju, Press Council of India chairman, defending him, saying the cartoonist has done nothing illegal.

"My opinion is that the cartoonist did nothing illegal. In a democracy many things are said, some truthful and others false," Katju had said.

Several politicians including Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray joined the chorus against Trivedi's arrest.

"(Through his cartoons) Trivedi tried to depict the rot in Parliament and the government charged him with sedition," Thackeray said in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

"Trivedi did insult the symbols but that does not justify branding him a traitor and imprisoning him," he said, adding "The sedition law is one brought by Britishers. Britain has dismissed it from their Constitution but it is still there in our Constitution."

Hundreds of India Against Corruption activists and scores others were present outside the jail to receive Trivedi when he came out a little past 1 pm.

Though the high court had on Tuesday granted bail to Trivedi, it will resume hearing the PIL on September 17 to decide whether it was right to apply sedition charge against him for his cartoons.


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